Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another fun post.

(Dad, sorry, again. Maybe there will be one for you to read next week.)

We bought an extra fridge/freezer combo on Black Friday. It's the FIRST Black Friday purchase I've EVER made. Ever. And I'm glad we did it. Because THIS is what it looks like now:

- Costco bag of chicken breasts
- Costco bag of sockeye salmon filets
- Costco bag of tilapia loins
- Breast milk galore 
- Tupperware of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins 
(for an easy on-the-go breakfast)

When Oliver was an infant, I pumped 3-4x a day on the opposite side from feeding him. It got complicated to maneuver all of the parts while feeding him... I didn't yield a whole lot... and I think the noise put him to sleep most days.

I had to pump in the hospital this go 'round. After dealing with ice packs, it was the only way - much to the chagrin of the lactation consultants. She said NEEEEVER pump within the first three or four weeks let alone give the baby a bottle! Lady, I needed to relieve the pain. I was drowning the poor kid.

Here's an average day for us:
(much improved from infant #1)

7:00 both boys wake up. (Usually O is up first, comes into our room, and M is up shortly thereafter.)
7-7:30 make breakfast and lunch for O.  Bubble guppies or PAW Patrol on the tv or iPad.
7:30-7:45ish nurse Miles while Oliver is eating breakfast. (Usually just one side.)
8:00-8:10 pump (both), label and freeze.
8:10-8:30 get boys and self dressed and packed for the day.
8:30 leave the house, drop O off at daycare and head to Stroller Strides.
(M usually falls asleep on one of these two rides and stays asleep for his first nap).
9:00-10:00 (on good days, 9:45 on others) work out - yay!
10:00-10:20 nurse both sides briefly (I call this his mid-morning snack)
10:20-10:30 get coffee (decaf) and head home
11:00 shower, do laundry, straighten up (mostly putting away Oliver's cars), take out dishes, etc.
11:45/12 nurse (both) and pump
12:30-2 nap #2

The afternoons are a bit up in the air, depending on how the other naps go. Then 4-8pm is a shot in the dark. Miles is not a huge napper when Oliver is at home. Geeeeee.... I wonder why. Poor baby.

But I usually "bank" about 7oz per day between the two. I try to keep them in separate freezer bags, and occasionally leave one in the fridge if I know I'll need it. Example, Sundays I go to the gym during Oliver's nap and leave Ben a bottle to give to Miles so on Sundays, the first pump gets refrigerated for the afternoon.

Here's how it's all organized:

This is so when I go back to work, it will be easier to either 'top up' the bottles I pump at work or to take out a bigger bag to make a bottle in and of itself.

Here are the generally accepted guidelines for storing and using breastmilk in case anyone is curious! 

My suggestions would be to stay consistent. Initially, you might not pump a whole lot. Your body will adjust. The first few weeks I only yielded 2 or 3 oz (combined on both sides), but now I'm used to it and have upped the amount considerably. I don't give myself a day "off", not even on weekends. I will skip a pump if I think Miles is going through a growth spurt and needs the additional calories.

I've experimented with pumping before feeding and it seems to help sometimes, assuming I get the timing right and he's not ready immediately. Not only am I more comfortable, but the kid doesn't drown or gag and it seems to result in less gas. This has been especially helpful this week when his nose has been blocked. Darn boogers.

Am I forgetting any other suggestions?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Feeding Essentials

(Dad, exit out of the window - you don't need to be reading this. PROMISE.)

I'm stubborn. Always have been, probably always will be. Nursing was not an exception to this at all. Although incredibly difficult at first, I fought through it with the support of my husband, mom (thanks!), other new moms and overcame the doctors suggestions to "supplement" with formula. Proud to say that Oliver never had a drop of the stuff nor has Miles. 

I'm not one of the "loud and proud" breast feeding moms who 'whips it out' in public just to make a point. With Oliver, I would nurse in bathrooms, backs of cars, or with a nursing cover on should I be 'forced' to do it in public or around anyone other than immediate family. This was fine, because it's what I was comfortable with at the time. This go-round is a different story mainly because I have a 2 1/2 year old. 

I still remember the moment my husband first saw me pumping. HA! Feeling a bit like a very unattractive Madonna, I had reached a point of no return. Now I'm pretty comfortable with it, pumping on the living room floor while I dress the toddler or chat on the phone with my mom. I've done it in cars (not attaching or detaching while driving, promise!), at work (that's another entry itself), while half asleep and contemplated doing it while walking the dog. (I didn't. I just thought about it. Multitasking at its finest).

Here's my compilation of breast feeding essentials. Often times, when I've gone to baby showers I've put together a small basket of some of these goodies - to be opened after the shower. Because, let's be serious, they're practical but not nearly as fun to open as cute onesies and stuffed animals. About half of them I didn't purchase until after Oliver was born (in 2011). Big mistake. Be forewarned - having some of these items (or all of them!) on hand will help considerably! 

1. Shields. These can alleviate a lot of issues with nursing. Difficulty latching on or soreness (it happens!) being two of the major ones. Although I didn't need them with M, I used them regularly with Oliver for a few weeks until we both figured it out. I'd keep 4-6 of them on hand, and one in the diaper bag. I learned that the hard way! 

2. A GOOD pump. The one pictured (Medela Freestyle Pump N Go) is the one that I have. Although the motor is a bit loud (meeeeeeeehp, meeeeeeehp) it's solid and has lasted for going on 17 months of use. I did replace the parts before M was born, but it still holds a charge and works well. WELL worth the investment.

3. Freezer storage bags. 7 weeks in, I've gone through one box already. They're pre-sterilized, easy to use and store well. Tip: label not only the quantity but the time of day. (Like the time I had to go through my stash searching for milk pumped after I ate Chinese food. That was fun.) 

4. Quick clean steam bags.  I use this every day (sometimes every other day) and they sterilize your pump parts after you've washed them with soap and water. Putting in enough water is important otherwise the parts get warped. I always lay mine out on a towel to dry once it's cooled down. (See below).

5. Wipes. I use these at work in between 'sessions'. Or at least I did last time. It's not like washing them fully, but it's better than nothing!

6. Lanolin. Just to have on hand to help with the soreness and scabs. Yes, I said scabs. It happens. (Before showering is a must.) I only needed them for a week or so... 

7. Nursing pads. Some people might not need them. But if I even think about anything feeding-related, or hear a baby cry, or think about a baby crying they come in handy. Totally discreet, except for when you forget to take them out before going swimming. Oops!

8. Date-labeled bottle tops. These are AMAZING. I would slap one of these puppies onto a freshly pumped bottle and grin. You select the day of the week and time of day (AM, midday or PM) it was pumped and the guesswork is taken out of when to use it by! The U-shaped container is perfect for the fridge to find the oldest bottles first. Uh-mazing. 

9. Nursing tank tops. Most of mine are from Target. I LIVED in them for 8 weeks with Oliver but have since resorted to 'normal' shirts because it's winter in CT, not spring in NC. 

10. Nursing sports bra. (Motherhood maternity - here). It's not the most supportive, but it does the trick. When I run, I wear a regular heavy-duty sports bra and then take it off immediately after I'm done running. 

Not pictured: Nice, comfortable nursing bras. Bought all of mine at Target. (Like this one here). I have one underwire one and try to avoid using it. Slightly uncomfortable. 

Am I forgetting anything else? 

Next post (not sure when): Pumping tips from a gal whose freezer looks like this: 
(and whose bub has packed on 5lbs in 7 weeks)

Monday, December 9, 2013

(Our Elf) Sammy Christmas

Last year (post-Christmas) I bought an Elf. This year, he 'arrived' at our house the day after Thanksgiving and I was pretty curious how Oliver would react. Here's a recap of Sammy's activities each morning. 

Day 1 - Oliver loved the story! 
Day 1 - He's been counting down the days!

Day 2 - Making snowmen
Day 2 - Marshmallows still taste good with Sharpie on them (yuck!)
Day 2 - What a nice note from Sammy!

Day 3 - Doing a puzzle with Elmo.

Day 4 - Hiding in the flowers from Clare.

Day 5 - Going for a ride!

Day 6 - Having fun with family pictures!

Day 7 - Rolling around in some TP.
Day 8 - Making some snow angels with Norman.

Day 9 - Underwearing the tree!

Day 9 - Sammy is encouraging potty training. Maybe?
Day 10 - Sending a message.
Day 10 - ...or else!
Day 10 - There was only ONE "V" in the whole box so Sammy couldn't spell "BEHAVE" and "OLIVER"

Day 11 - Think about the TRACTOR....
(The Hess truck and tractor that Oliver has been saying he wants Santa to bring him). 
Day 11 - Bribery? Incentives? 

Stay tuned for the rest of Sammy's antics! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turkey Trotting...

I did a local (free!!) 5K last Thursday as my 'triumphant' return to running.  Well intentioned to push the double with both boys, when I woke up the weather report looked like this: 

The "feels like 14" part got me.

Yeah. A one month old doesn't need to be in a stroller baring that weather. Especially without a weather shield. So, I prepped (ahem, pumped) a bottle (which Oliver is strangely fascinated with watching...) to leave with Ben and the in-laws before heading down to meet some friends at the race. 

We got to hang inside for a little bit and Oliver got to run around and race himself. (He was SUPER proud when someone complimented his pace and form, although I think he was only concerned with the pace comment.) Luckily, when we headed out - the course was perfect to maintain O's attention. It was a double loop of a course that included running along the docks (boats! lighthouse! seagulls!) and an active construction site (digger! skid steer! grater!). He was great about keeping his hat and gloves on, bundled into the JJCole. 

My running buddy.
Having had a C-section a month ago, my main goal was to not walk. My doctor cleared me for full exercise (except abdominal work) at 3 weeks, and having gone to Stroller Strides a few times I felt like I could run the whole thing. We ended up finishing in 28:40 which was pretty good considering the lack of training. Plus turkey trots are great for alleviating the guilt of a piece of my mom's amazing pumpkin cheesecake...  

Mile 1 - 9:20
Mile 2 - 9:17
Mile 3 - 9:02

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's not fair...

There are about five or six blog entries I have in mind to write (how Oliver and Miles look like twins... my return to exercise... my 5K turkey trot... life as a mother of two...), but none of them seem too important right now. 

It's 8:47 pm. One child is asleep, and the other resting in bed reading "Little Blue Truck." And I'm exhausted.  (Note to self: take a nap tomorrow. At least one.)

Miles had been up since we picked up Oliver at 4:15 this afternoon. FOUR HOURS. He's five weeks old.  That shouldn't happen. Although I attempted to rock, nurse, walk, and lull him to sleep at least a few times - succumb he did not. Thus he was overtired and found it even more difficult to fall asleep.

In between checking Facebook/Instagram, texting my mom, and watching clips (four minutes at a time. max.) of Breaking Bad (I'm on Season 4 Episode 9) I started thinking. 

There are so many people in the world (including my first-child rearing self) who would have been distraught at the idea of having a fussy infant for so many hours in a row. I missed having dinner with my family (and my inlaws on their last night in the states) because I was rocking, nursing, walking and lulling.  My hips hurt from so many side lunges (M's favorite) and my freshly-straightened hair had spit up in it.

In between the diaper changes, burps, scene changes and lullabies I remembered just how lucky I was to be in this situation at all.  As a first-time mom to Oliver, we were stressed out. He had jaundice, didn't nurse well, and screamed himself to sleep (while we rocked him with the white noise bathroom fan on). But we had him and we didn't realize just how lucky we were.

In the two and a half years since Oliver was born, family and friends have experienced and shared their heartaches with us and the world. Miscarriages, infertility, stillborns, babies who left their parents too soon. Some of the most genuine, thoughtful, loving people I've ever known who have experienced the world's worst kind of loss. It's thinking of their stories that make me tear up, wish they had never gone through those days, and hug my own fussy boys a little bit tighter. Even if it is 3am. 

I'm reminded of this every time I turn on "16 and Pregnant", but life isn't always fair. I don't know what those struggles are like, nor do I think I ever will. I am one of the lucky ones, and I know that. So, thank you, in the smallest of ways (D, M, B, A, T, S) for helping me to realize that my battles are minuscule. And that I'm lucky to have those very battles. Because that means I have my boys. 

My two gifts.